updated 06:55 pm EST, Tue February 14, 2012
Verizon demos Evolution 2 concept store
Verizon took a very strong cue from Apple on Tuesday after a demonstration of a next-generation store concept. The 3,100 square foot "Evolution 2.0" store illustrated to PocketNow in Toms River, New Jersey moves away from the traditional carrier store's emphasis on wall displays and frequently dummy-only units by having brightly-lit central tables with working demo devices. At least the demo shop will make a point of fully staffing the store with 21 full-time workers, cutting the time in the store from as much as an hour to just minutes.
Sales would borrow from Apple by moving to online-only receipts and even having regular workshops to help inexperienced customers get used to their devices. The aesthetics would be more original with hardwood floors, tan walls, and white tables. Most existing stores are gray and carpeted.
Verizon hasn't said whether the Evolution 2.0 store will spread elsewhere, although this may depend on relative sales and customer feedback. AT&T is known for having tested concepts like Surface touchscreen tables and expanding them to some stores depending on their size and popularity.
Apple's retail stores are some of the most profitable in the world and have for years been more successful than Tiffany's in revenue per square foot. Emulating its structure hasn't necessarily paid off; Microsoft's deliberately Apple-like stores usually have considerably lower traffic as fewer customers have an incentive to visit the store versus a big-box chain such as Best Buy. Verizon may still be keen to catch customers that have been trained to avoid carrier stores for iPhone launches.